Learning To Welcome Weakness

 I stared at this page for a long time. I started a couple of different blogs before I came back to this blank page. I even left it for a week before revisiting it.  I have a million messy thoughts meandering through my mind.  For once, I don’t want to share my thoughts because it’s not pretty. For the past couple of months I’ve felt overwhelming weakness, weariness and wimpiness. I’ve felt pressed against on all sides. I’ve seen strongholds in my life painfully stripped away. But as certain things are stripped away I’ve noticed they are being replaced with a hunger for what God has to offer. Tiffany-made material is stripped away and replaced with satisfaction in God-made motives.  As I’m being chiseled away the remaining crevices are filled with desires for more of God’s word, His people and the Holy Spirit’s activity. I’ve realized I find comfort and affirmation in every other relationship in my life except for my relationship with God. I’ve struggled to remain committed to God’s healing in my life, because I rather continue to avoid the pain in my past than face my fears and peel back those fear layers to reveal the root problem. I’ve been told you are either running towards something in life or running away from something, and I’ve had more than my fair share of days ready to bolt. I straddle the line of leaning into healing and the victory that manifests in vulnerability and lunging towards the limited, listless life. Click To Tweet It’s the easy way out to shrink back into a world of comfort and stability when you are being beckoned into a world of wild obedience.  Yes, every fiber in my being wants to run in the opposite direction, but God continues to reel me back in. I pray that I will remain steadfast, believing in the areas where I feel the most opposition is the area where God will find the most victory eventually. Oh, but It’s the eventually that consumes me with fear and doubt.  How long will I live with this internal turmoil? This internal tug on my heart to recoil in fear or step out in faith?  I know God will not leave me in this season, but it’s been a struggle for me to perservere as He begins to expose every part of my life that I’ve tragically tried to control. As he brings to light the things I’ve kept hidden in the recesses of my mind and heart. Suppress instead of address has been my motto. I feel like I’m walking up the escalator in the opposite direction. My steps are futile as I keep marching without making any progress. I picture myself dragging my weighted feet through the muddy messes in my life as I begrudgingly put one foot of faith in front of the other and wait on God to renew my strength. Soon, He will fling off the muddy filth on my feet and take me on a flight towards freedom. I’ve tasted the freedom before. The best is yet to come. Soon. Eventually.
Still, that leaves me feeling beat down, burdened and exhausted on some days. I am my biggest critic and come down hard on myself. Oh, Tiffany obviously you aren’t tapping into God’s strength, because if you were genuinely relying on him to sustain you His peace and rest would be projected to others. That’s why I feel hesitant to even write this blog, because if I were actually living out God’s word shouldn’t I have a peace that surpasses all understanding? Shouldn’t I be unwavering? Shouldn’t I have rest for my weary soul?  Shouldn’t I be oozing with joy? As I started thinking about these questions a new perspective came to me.

If I had a physical wound, friends and family would rush to my side to care for me and support my recovery. Often when you are physically wounded you need time to take it easy and take care of yourself. You have to rely on the support of others to find complete healing.  “Don’t put any weight on that foot,” a doctor might say. Or, “Make sure you stay in bed and rest” a doctor might suggest as the best medicine for your recovery.

If I were fighting a physical war, people would rally behind me to help fight. People would be my aid when wounded and sacrifice to come to my rescue. You see, we rush to hospital beds after car accidents and during horrible illnesses (which is critical and necessary)  but we don’t rush to the hospital to check on our emotional and spiritual hearts or the hearts of the ones around us. We neglect this hurt because it’s invisible and visible pain demands attention while invisible pain is easily ignored. Click To Tweet Invisible pain is deprioritized.  Exhaustion defines some days because a war is being waged emotionally and spiritually in my life. 

This past week I listened to three different stories that happened to revolve around Nehemiah. It spoke directly to my season in life and encouraged me to stand firm in my faith. You see, Nehemiah was just a simple cupbearer to the king living that cupbearer life when he felt overwhelmingly burdened and radically moved to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the broken walls and burnt gates.  Nehemiah had never been sad in the king’s presence before so when the king saw him he said, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” Nehemiah replies, “I was very much afraid but I said to the king, May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers were buried lies in ruins, and it’s gates have been destroyed by fire?”

What’s displayed as sadness of heart can often shift me into my God-give direction. Don’t ignore the heaviness on your heart as weakness. Welcome it. Ask the Holy Spirit what he is trying to teach you or show you in feeling this? Out of habit, reflex or my internal optimist when I experience a moment of sadness my gut-reaction is to immediately course correct with an optimististic statement or wave the weakness away. It’s like “Everything is Awesome” from the Lego movie starts playing in my head. While not always a bad thing, I need to be aware that sometimes if I dig into my emotions, allow myself to acknowledge my feelings instead shifting my gears to a grin,  I will find life and truth beneath the soil of my sadness. That’s where life begins. Beneath the soil. Beneath our bleeding hearts and hurts hope and freedom can be found.

Nehemiah gets to Jerusalem and examines the damage that’s been done. Oh, wait so he didn’t just get right to rebuilding and restoring? He had to first measure the damage that’s been done. I bet this could have weighed him down and discouraged him as he sees what once was strong and fortified left as rubble and ashes. This means if God gives me a vision to be debt-free maybe I should examine my spending habits? If I’m entering into a dating relationship maybe I should examine his behaviors before jumping in? Mostly, this is showing me that as I rebuild places in my heart I must first examine the devastating damage and heaps of hurt to know the best way to rebuild and restore.

Nehemiah is off to a strong start with what seems like an insurmountable task, but as soon as he is in the final stretch to complete the project he runs into rebuilding resistance. This shows me when God is guiding me into a new season of growing his Kingdom I will face opposition. The enemy will focus on a full-court press. The pressure will push, pull and pick on me to keep me from celebrating a victory. The enemy in this story became angry when he heard the gaps were being closed. The enemies in your life will be pissed when they see you covering more ground for the Kingdom and closing the gaps in your life that for years left room for the enemy to seep and creep in unnoticed. Opponents will do anything to deter you, distract you and destroy your destiny. Don’t stray from your strategy. Nehemiah was laser-focused on rebuilding the wall. When you maximize the vision you minimize the villain. With the resistance I’ve felt lately I keep thinking that the friction has finally passed. But just like the weather in Texas lately, one sunny day is preceded and followed by storms. Again, the enemy comes to Nehemiah five more times to frighten him. What did Nehemiah do? Instead of succumbing to the fear he prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” What do I need to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen in me to combat the critics, fight the fears and become immune to intimidation? 

Nehemiah didn’t ignore the threats. He continued to build, but kept a close watch on the work. The builders guarded themselves. They knew a real enemy existed and prepared for battle, positioned to protect  all while persevering with the plan to rebuild.  Forgetting that a spiritual enemy is prowling around me waiting to attack is ignorance on my part. It would be similar to being a police officer and not wearing a bullet proof vest. While hoping the enemy never attacks, preparing and protecting is paramount.

My favorite part of the story occurs when Nehemiah finishes building in only 52 days. When his enemies caught wind of this accomplished work they lost their self-confidence because they realized that this work had been done with the help of God. So, if I continue on the path God has planned for me even my enemies will see the completed works as something only God could accomplish? That’s astonishing.

When Nehemiah felt resistance he asked God to strengthen his hands. I have trouble admitting my weaknesses and if that’s difficult for me how can I possibly ask sincerely for strength? If I’m having an “off” day I rather lock myself in my room until I’m back to being an uplifting, joy-filled Tiffany. I don’t want to be seen as the frustrated, struggling, downcast Tiffany. You see, I want to appear like a girl that has her act together. I want to always be poised under pressure. I want the joy of the Lord to always radiate from my face and linger on my lips. I question God, “How can I represent you well if I feel so weak? How can I be your ambassador if I’m having a noticeably bad day?   The thing is I realize it’s not about my faith, but that God is faithful. I keep making it about myself, when it’s not about me at all, but what God wants to accomplish through me for His glory. Although I have a sense of tumultous chaos, I’ve never felt so much peace that God is piecing these parts all together into something wonderful. I’ve come to a place where I must admit I’m a weak woman on my own.

  Sometimes, my weakness and weariness is exactly where God wants me to be to bring his plan into play. Now I want to be the woman who knows when I feel life is falling apart, God is knitting it all together for good. I want to be the woman who knows when I am weary, God is working to make his way in my life. I want to be the woman who isn’t self-confident, but Christ-confident. I want to be a leader like Nehemiah who deflects distractions and embraces eternal callings. I guess I just want to stay true to who God has called me to be.

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